A memorable year comes to a close

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The Floating Hospital President Sean Granahan and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Shani Andre take inventory of a memorable year in which our mission shines brighter than ever.

As the Covid-19 virus continues to rage and change our daily lives and our city, we have been reflecting on 2020 as the year that wasn’t. No movies nor theater; no indoor restaurant dining; no classroom teaching, proms or sports events. It will no doubt go down in both history and popular culture as a defining point in our lives. But, when we think of the highlights of this most unusual year, we are reminded of the year that it was—one in which our unflagging mission marched on, and the spirit of our staff and community would not be defeated by a virus or a shutdown.

Despite the havoc it caused, Covid showed us that, as an organization, there is strength in charity. When our families needed care and basic necessities, our friends, donors and private foundation partners were there with food, clothes, funds and support. Donations of personal protective equipment poured into the clinic from corporations, local politicians and our network of friends. When our staff was exhausted and hungry, the community was there to support them and keep up their spirits. Celebrity chefs such as Maria Loi dropped by with lunch for our staff on days they were too tapped out to nourish themselves.

When a crisis like Covid disrupts the very core of a city, an organization like The Floating Hospital is only as good as its staff. And, The Floating Hospital staff is the best—period. They understood that they were coming to work not just for a paycheck, but to provide care to those who need it. They came without complaint, they came when it was dangerous. They improvised and changed their work practices on a dime to protect and support patients as they came to us and, just as important, to protect each other. As patients were forced to shelter in place, our Good Health Shuttle drivers converted their routes to pick up staff to minimize their exposure commuting on public transportation. Creative thinking, a rapid switch to telehealth, and adapting our procedures to new public-health protocols enabled us to shield our staff and keep the doors open.

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The pandemic made one thing clear: Intelligently designed space is the most important component of surviving the next crisis. The Floating Hospital anticipates moving its main clinic to a space a few blocks away in spring 2021. Presciently designed to accommodate our new world of pandemic protocols, the new The Floating Hospital clinic features working windows to allow fresh air, high ceilings and large open spaces for maximum ventilation and circulation. A new medical home for so many who have no home of their own, the clinic was specifically designed to be culturally sensitive to our diverse patient population—from the color palette to physical space blueprints. It promises to be truly unique healthcare experience for families long relegated to institutional approaches to healthcare delivery that overlook their humanity. The city may not have a home for many of the families we serve, but we do—in a modern facility that equals the quality of care that we provide.

There is no greater time than this moment to get involved with organizations like The Floating Hospital that are preparing for emergencies such as a pandemic. It is well documented that Covid has set its sights on the conditions that predominate in the poorest of communities: malnutrition, diabetes, obesity and hypertension. For our families, these healthcare outcomes will determine their future ability to ward off the disease. For them, a strong primary-care home is more essential than ever.

All families—no matter where and how they live, no matter their status or their finances, deserve a level of care many of us take for granted. They deserve to be treated with dignity and sustainably helped, not just medically served. It’s been our mission since 1866 to provide “more than healthcare” and we do that with nutrition and health education, provision of essentials, a caring hand and a listening ear. And we feel privileged in this most challenging of all years, to keep on doing that. We thank everyone who helped us this past year, and we hope in this coming year to thank you again for your support.

With warmest regards and wishes for the holidays.

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Sean T. Granahan, Esq.

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Shani Andre, MD

Since 1866, The Floating Hospital has been the largest provider of healthcare and education to families living with homelessness. Based in Long Island City, it provides comprehensive primary, dental and behavioral-health services, and health-education to patients living in more than 300 shelters and domestic violence safe houses throughout New York City.

In 2021, The Floating Hospital moved into a new modern main clinic in Long Island City, and continue to support patients in satellite clinics at family homeless shelters and public housing complexes in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx.

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